Happy Veterans Day: Remembering My Army Days

I joined the U.S. Army during my senior year in high school, and left for basic training at Ft Jackson, South Carolina about a month and a half after graduating. I remember when my recruiter, Sergeant Gore, asked me why I wanted to join the Army, I said because I admired military people and wanted to serve the country too. He was surprised to hear that, especially coming from a high schooler. He said most people joined to travel, get money for college, or some other benefit. Of course I was thankful to find out about the benefits when he explained them, but for me, growing up in a military area in Virginia, I really did see military people as admirable, and I saw a chance to be part of something bigger. I was excited about the new adventure that was ahead. Although, I was only in for four years, I will always be thankful for the time I spent in the U.S. Army, the people I met, and for the unforgettable experiences I had.

Here are some of my memories from basic training…

One of my worst memories was when we had to go into the gas chamber and lift our gas mask. The gas was no joke. This gave me a deep appreciation for my gas mask.

One of my most enjoyable memories was basic rifle marksmanship (BRM). It was fun learning to fire the various U.S. weapons.

One of the saddest memories was when one of my fellow platoon mates, Private Blair, who was also from Virginia, had family drive eight hours from Virginia to South Carolina, to visit her during Sunday visitation. Her mom’s chocolate chip cookies were so good, and since her family was from Virginia, I felt like my family was visiting too. However, after a short time, one of the drill sergeants came out and announced visitation was over, her family left. Ten minutes later he came back out and said he was just kidding. She cried and cried and cried. Her family was gone, and no phones were allowed so she couldn’t call them to come back. Some Drill Sergeants could certainly be cruel. I always appreciate my platoons lead drill sergeant for saying, “His job was not to make our lives miserable, but to train us.”

One of the most tiring memories was getting up every morning at 4:15am for physical training (PT).

One of the scariest memories, is when we finished our 4 day in-processing and they bused us over to the area where we would officially start basic training. When we stepped off the buses the drill sergeants were in our faces screaming like they had lost their minds. After the first couple of weeks they did calm down, “a little.” Towards the end of basic, they did say they did that because otherwise we would not have respected them.

One of my most peaceful memories were the night time Bible studies that a set of twins in my platoon, the Johnson’s, had in their room. These two privates were inspiring us to put Jesus first.

One of my most victorious memories was graduation day! It was great to see my parents and get out of basic training. Although it was bittersweet parting ways with my fellow platoon mates, that I had spent the last eight weeks with.

And finally, one of my most heartwarming memories happened about two weeks before graduation. I located a letter in my wall locker that had been secretly hidden by the soldiers that were in the room before us. They were encouraging us to not give up. It was amazing that they would take the time to write such a letter. Me and my roommates were thankful to read it. I still have that letter today, along with all the other letters I received while in basic training.

Well I’m passing that same word on to you today, don’t give up no matter what you’re going through. Trust in Jesus because He never fails. Happy Veterans Day everyone, especially to my fellow veterans! ✌🏿

Galatians 6:9 NLT, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Me as a Private First Class getting my first Army Achievement Medal in 1995.
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